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Ironman Austria Report

Ironman Austria was one of those events that I was not really taking that seriously. ( if i was i would have left the country before the TTT) I knew I would break 9 hours due to the swimming improvement, but not sure by how much and in going over as part of a big team from Rugby Tri, the beer, banter and looking after 2 guys that I coach was always going to be as important as doing well myself. My last team trip ended in disaster at Antwerp so this event was always going to be a training session, a hard one at that but more like the self supported event at Bosworth than an assault on trying to make a top 20 or even top 10 pro finish. The background Worked on the swimming, cycling distance was good and managed to get a little speed in me but not expecting to be as fast as I was in 2006. Running was much much stronger having over distance trained, but I know a sub 3 hour run was not really on the cards as my last training session with any sort of speed was last year. Saturday AM: My pre race ride was a problem. Having put the bike together I organised a team spin out to Maria Worth, to the first bike feed station and in getting out of the saddle to ensure the indexing was good, the headset started to stiffen up like a teenager in Amsterdam. This made steering a tad difficult for a few seconds until it loosened up when seated. So of course, in true bicycle repair man style, I get out my tool. Loosen off, remove bearings, put back together and supertighten until my arms look like Stallone in Over the Top. I try again on the bike and the same thing…its no better. Guess I have to just HTFU and tough it out. Anyway, morning swim session was great and found my rhythm straight away and felt that the race was going to be a good one. Saturday’s weather reached into the 30s and I began to worry that I had not brought my Sahara gear as my skin burns when someone lights a candle in a dark room. The weather forcasts promised rain, but a few evening prayers would not hurt. For the last 5 weeks I have been getting up at 5 religiously and training before work so that sleeping at 9 and waking at 5 on race day would be easy. OR so I thought. Dropping off to TDF highlights on eurosport was easy enough but having made the mistake of leaving my phone on it rang at 10pm and I never made it back to sleep. ARSE!.....ARSE and ARSE. When 4am came I gave up and did not want to drop off as I knew I would feel more tired so instead the pro plus comes out and I’m race ready. Race Start: I join the swim crowds and patiently wait until I can get through until a rather attractive Lucie Zelenkova (Fpro) grabs my arm and manhandles me to the front of the pack and then offers to zip up my suit. How kind. In the water in good time and off goes the gun. Great!! Clear water in an Ironman and it lasted for about 2 mins, until my wetsuit comes undone and fills with water. Yes, fit blonde Czech girl forgets to fasten the Velcro flap and I’m beginning to sink. Of course with stopping, age groupers steamroller over you. But remedied it quickly and then swam on to the first turn. The swim was then easy, turns ok and found some fast feet in parts, until I hit the canal. The great thing about IM swims is that you find people at your pace and can change your stroke to see how fast you go compared to them. So I drop the rate and increase the pull power and start to pull away from other pros until I smack my head into a crash barrier. ARSE!!! After a little dizziness I was back on it and exited the water in 55 mins. Very happy. From then on I knew a sub 9 was on. Fast transition and onto the bike. Riding with the ergomo was very easy and despite averaging more power than I did in the BDCA 100 TT, a few early AGers came past me and started attacking on the hills. Going over the speed bumps before the first feed though, my saddle dropped. Not sure by how much but not enough to really affect cycling but it felt low and I thought about stopping. A pattern was emerging on the bike though as I was riding on power. Get overtaken on hills, which was even worse because I could not get out of the saddle due to the headset stiffening like Tom Jones on Viagra, but then with the awesome Rocket disc and a 11t cassette the descents were lightning and always managed to catch people up. After 25 miles, problem no 3 arose when the ergomo decided to stop picking up speed and said LOW BATTERY. Low battery my arse, I had it on charge for 3 days. So no Jedi Force to control my pace just Ninja feel. I ploughed on in 2.21 for the first lap and wanted to go faster on the 2nd, so started lifting the pace and passed about 10 riders. This was all going really well until the Egg climb which was hard without being able to get out of the saddle. I expected to feel a lot better than I did at this point but the climb really took it out of me and I had a bit of a low point after the descent. This got even lower when my front tyre went down and I stopped to check it out. Fortunately, it was the valve working loose and not a puncture so I loaded up a brass suppository and inflated it back to rock hard. From then on I was chasing again and instead of being aggressive and riding like a TT, I was more rolling and conserving energy. The Rupert climb was much harder than expected on the 2nd lap and I lost a few places here. Second lap in 2.25. But if I was offered a 4.47 bike at the start of the day I would have taken it. Out onto the run with 5.48 on the clock and knew that I had to only beat my 2006 run time of 3.11 to break 9 hours. The run was uneventful apart from the rain, which for some reason, despite running over 1000 miles in my current trainers, they gave me blisters. Bad ones too and by 15k, blood was pouring out of my shoes. HTFU and all that so the pace did not slow too much. 1.29 and 1.34 splits were good enough and up to 34k I was in position not to get birded. I got passed by the female leader, then got a little cramp and decided to stop and stretch. That’s when Bella came past me. Who I have to say, was awesome on that day and was gutted for her not to win. The finish was great, and I wanted to enjoy this one. 8.52 and finally under 9 hours respectable but also a little annoyed that I had not gone quicker. There is more in there. Bike problems (all self imposed but now fixed) lack of sleep and blisters all added to the HTFU but with some faster, more specific run training rather than being PC plod would have got me into the 8.40s. Looking forward now to doing another fast Ironman and going into the 8.40s and maybe the 8.30s, but a lot more work to do, including 500 miles of training next week as a final prep for the Double.

17 July 2008


  • Thomas Peoples (Poet)

    Flippin' 'eck lad! That's a top job, well done and hopefully I'll see you at the Double (in a supporting role, obviously)

  • Jevon

    Top job mate. well done.

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